With the migration of Google Analytics from its Universal Analytics (UA) iteration to Google Analytics 4 (they really need to work on a simple, consistent nomenclature), we have been thinking about how to change our monthly analytics report.
One basic change that we are implementing is to compare each month’s report to the previous year’s average rather than the previous month and/or the previous year. The idea is that we want a more reasonable criterion for comparison. Between month to month business can change so dramatically that it is better to look at the past twelve month’s average than merely that preceding month.
As you may know, one of the basic changes from UA to GA4 is toward an events-based model. So, for example, sessions (the period during which user views numerous pages) and pageviews become more important than users. Part of the reasoning for this is that it is not always easy to tell if the user arriving at a site is a new user or one that’s visited before. Moreover, frequently people will open new pages in tabs and then go back to them much later (after the 30 minutes of inactivity that Google counts as ending a session).
In deference to previous reports, I will report that during May we received slightly fewer users than during April, 9,382 to 9,416. This is a decrease of -.4%. But let’s get to the good stuff, shall we?
Sessions describe when a user cycles through a series of pages on a website. Sessions also decreased nominally between May and April, from 13,324 to 13,363. Again, a decrease of -.3%. However, with respect to the average number of sessions over the past year, 12,681 sessions, the 13,324 constitutes a +5.1% increase.
Users viewed 32,420 pages in May, which is a -5.1% decrease over the 34,173 pageviews of April. The average number of pageviews for the past year is 33,919, against which this month constitutes a -4.8% decrease.
With that said, one of the features of GA4 is counting what are called engaged sessions. In fact, “engaged sessions” mean more than “sessions” because sessions include when a person opened a tab in the background but didn’t interact with the site. Whereas, engaged sessions are:
So you can see that what we really care about are engaged sessions. According to GA4, users conducted 12,996 engaged sessions during May. Now that you understand things, I will try to confuse you more by reporting that GA4 counted 14,720 sessions during May, which as you may note is 1,396 more sessions than Universal Analytics. Clearly, the ways that these two analytics count are different.
If you compare the different channels through which we receive traffic, you’ll see that the engagement rate is highest for our paid search traffic (Google Ads). Moreover, even though we receive more monthly traffic from organic search than directly, our direct traffic has a higher engagement rate.
As with the traffic numbers, the data on photographer searches during May was equivocal. The number of searches at large went down from 4,784 in April to 4,672 during May, a decrease of -2.3%. Similarly, specialty searches decreased by -5.5%, from 1,441 in April to 1,362 in May.
Yet searches by locations increased during May, from 3,810 in April to 4,014. That’s an +5.4% increase. Date searches also increased. Users searched photographers by date 2,276 times in April and 3,069 times in May. An +34.8% increase.
Searches by name, in contrast, fell -by 23.3%, from 1,273 in April to 976 in May. Hmmm.
Once those photographer searches are performed and a number of photographer records are shown, we count how many times each month a website, Instagram account, LinkedIn profile, and other links are clicked.
For the most part, these unilaterally decreased. May saw only 4,631 website clicks, as opposed to the 6,369 of April — a -27.3% decrease. Instagram links also decreased albeit not so dramatically: 851 in May against the 920 of April, a -7.2% decrease. Bios were clicked on -41.3% fewer times, emails -63.7% fewer times, and LinkedIn accounts -57% fewer. Ouch.
During May users viewed the website’s two blogs 12,249 times, which is -9.8% less than the 13,592 we lionized last month.
Wonderful Machine has two different blogs. The first, called Intel, is designed to provide information relevant to the business of being a commercial or editorial photographer. The second, called Published, promotes recent projects (that were either published or used commercially) by our member photographers.
On the Intel blog, the most popular posts were:
On the Published blog, the most popular posts were:
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